Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Not Alone

Morning came with a bright blue sky.  There was just enough of a crack in the canopy above our pool to see the beautiful color.  This was to be our last day before heading back to the village.  Billaad and I had had enough of fishing and by midday we convinced my father to let us explore the river just above the water fall.  After eating Tiras would escort us up and over the platue.  We also would take the two dogs.  My dad and the other men would have another afternoon of fishing.
“Hey that’s my finger.”  “Don’t climb so close behind me then.”  Billaad and I were climbing up the platue near the waterfall.  We had decided it best because taking time to look for a better way might take too long and separate us too much from the group.  “Ok, I will back off but hurry up.”  I was impatient.  I had let Billaad go before me.  Tiras and the dogs were already at the top.  “Have grandpa pull you up in a bag like he did the dogs if you are in that much of a hurry.”  As you know already Billaad could be quite direct for an 11-year-old boy.

So Billaad gets to the top and says: “Wow! That’s amazing!”  “Alright, alright just get out of the way.”  I wanted to see what was so amazing.  Now, if you’ve never been a 11 or 12 year old boy, then you may not appreciate how amazing a river, a hand breadth deep, running through a bed of rocks can be.  The rocks were all different sizes.  There were small stones completely submerged.  There were rocks half in and half out of the water.  There were rocks so large the two of us could not budge them.  And, there were even a few boulders as large as a horse.  We, of course, would try to make our way to and fro by only standing on rocks with surfaces above the streaming water.  We also played a game where we were battling Gog and his Scythians.

We were having a joyous time.  Occasionally we would get close enough to the falls to wave and shout down to the men fishing.  To which my father would reply with hands waving: “Get back from the edge there!  Do you want to fall off?”  We would just laugh and then retreat back to our game.  The stream of the water had picked up a bit because of the rain and it was actually a little warmer now.  You see the rain water was a little warmer than the river water.

We had been up there a while and sensed that soon my father would call us back.  We planned one last onslaught to drive out the invading Gog when a most peculiar thing happened.  The river got very cold and the stream of water picked up considerably.  Tiras noticed it and stood up on the large rock that was his look out position.  He hollered at us to come back.  Billaad feigned back “Aahhhg!”, softly so that nobody but I would hear his mockery.  We started back but it was not fast enough for Tiras.  He gave another shout.  It was louder this time and sounded much more urgent.  We did hear that the sound of the rolling water up river from us was increasing in intensity yet again.

Tiras slid down from his watch point and started to make his way toward us on the dry rocks whose number was quickly dwindling on account of the rising water.  He met Billaad who was ahead of me and hosted him up on his back.  He was about to continue on and get me when a large rush of water hit.  This rush consumed all of the once exposed rocks between Tiras and myself (about a 5 cubit span).  Tiras held up his hand to signal I should wait there.  He quickly bounced form rock to rock with Billaad on his back and delivered him to the point where we had ascended.  The water’s edge only a few cubits from there now and the uncles were barley able to get Billaad down before the water started to rush over that section of the cliff as well.

By that time both Tiras and my dad had returned to the rock closest to me that had not succumbed to the now ice cold water.  In fact we could see some rather large chunks of ice being carried with the flow.  It was fast and deep now and 10 cubits separated my bolder from theirs.  Tiras had grabbed the rope used earlier to hoist the dogs.  He tossed me the end with the harness.  I caught it and my dad shouted as load as he could that I should secure it around the top of the now dampened rock.  It was now less than one cubit above the rushing water.  Seconds later Tiras grabbed my dads arm and pointed to another large rush of water headed our way.  The men knew that this rush would surly prevail above my rock.  They could see that I was having difficulty securing the rope.  My dad called to me again.  “Tie the harness around you under your arms!”  He said as they both demonstrated on themselves.  I understood and hastily fastened the harness in place.

The last hook fastened I looked up to my dad with a smile on my face: “I did it!”  I yelled.  They were bracing themselves.  I turned up stream just as the rush hit my rock.  It hit me waist high and with such force to drive me into the icey torrent.  I was carried quickly down stream until I felt a fierce and sudden jolt of the end of the rope.  The rush quickly passed and the water was about to the top of my stomach. and moving fast.  I could not stand against the current and gave up any attempt to do so.  I could feel my father and grandfather pulling me against the current.  I tried lying on my back with my head pointed up stream.  I made myself as stiff as I could like a board so as to ride the current and keep my head above water.

It was working well.  A few times my head would dip under the water and the icy cascade would work to push me to the bottom.  I would drive my heals into the rocks below as hard as I could and push my head out and then regain the stiff board position gliding through the water.  As my elders worked to pull me closer to their rock small chunks of ice pelted my back and shoulders.  I was very cold now but I could here the shoots of my dad to hang on; that they would have me out soon.  Moments later I looked up and I could see them.  Just then the current grabbed me and pulled me under.  As I struggled to pop my head out a large chunk of ice hit me square on the top of my head.

The next thing I knew, I could hear the crackling of the fire.  As I opened my eyes I could see my dad’s face.  He smiled and said; “Hi Crill how do you feel son?”  To which I responded, “Miss me?”  My dad wrapped his arms around me, kissed my check and said; “It’s so good to talk to you son, we thought we might lose you.”  “What happened?”  I asked.  “As far as I can tell, just before we pulled you out a large chunk of ice hit you in the head.  You have a nice gash on your head that we bandaged up after we brought you to camp.  We then changed you out of the wet cold clothing and set you near the warm fire.  And here you are.”  “Where did all the icy water come from and so fast?”  “We don’t know.  That has never happened before.  The Guslar has not heard of it happening any where either.”  He has heard some wild stories from trappers about mountains of ice to the north.  Maybe the icy water came from those mountains?”

“How’s your head Crill?”  Asked Billaad.  He was peering over my dads shoulder munching on some fish.  “It hurts but I think it’s ok.  How about you?”  “I’m fine.  You should have seen it Crill.  The water came all the way up to the edge of our camp for a little while.  It was a little scary and the horses were going crazy.  We were all worried about you too.  It’s nice to see you talking and all.  Want some fish?”  “Na, I am not hungry.  I think I will just lie here and rest.”

The next morning was another beautiful one.  I was aloud to sleep in a little.  My dad woke me when we were about all packed up to go.  We ate a light breakfast and were on our way.  As we walked down stream along the trail that morning we could see from various vantage points some of the damage done by the rushes of ice water.  Small trees were uprooted.  Debris logs were jammed and caught in a number of different obstacles, like well routed large trees and rock formations.

I asked my dad what the rushes would do to the delta.  He did not know but was hopeful the majority of the crops would survive.  I also made a confession to my dad as we walked.

“Dad.”  “Yes Crill.”  “You know when I was alone on that rock?”  “Yes, son.”  “Well, I was really scarred.”  “I don’t blame you boy, I would have been scared too.  I mean you could have been seriously injured or worse.”  “Yea, I was scared like that but I mean a different scarred.”  “Different how?”  “It is kind-a hard to explain.”  “Will you try?”  “The worst part about being on that rock was that I was alone.  You were down below and Tiras was carrying Billaad to safty.  And I was alone.”  “But God was with you.”  My dad put his hand on my shoulder to reassure me.  “No dad, he was not.”  I stopped and my dad stopped.  The others then stopped and looked at us.

“Grip, let’s take a break at that clearing just ahead.   You all go on and Crill and I will catch up.”  Grip acknowledge and the others proceeded.  “What do you mean God was not with you?”  “I am telling you dad; God was not there on that rock with me.  I was all alone.”  “Crill, you were just scarred.  God is always with us.”  “Dad, I am telling you He was not with me on that rock and He is not with me in the ways you describe that He is with you.  I was alone!”

I could see that my dad was perplexed and frustrated by my testimony.  After a pause he said: “Why would He not be with you?  Now, let’s go and take a break with the others.”

Now, at the clearing my dad and I were seated together and the Guslar came over and asked if he could join us.  We welcomed him.  Crill, you seemed upset back there.  Did it have anything to do with your incident on the river?  Does your head feel alright?”  “My head is fine.  It is my heart that troubles me.”  “How so?”  “Like I told my dad; I was alone on that rock.  My dad was down below, Tiras was rescuing Billaad and God was somewhere else.”  “But, God is everywhere Crill.”  “Maybe Mr. Guslar but He was not with me on that rock; I was alone.  And that’s not all; if I would have died in that river, then I fear I would have been alone forever.”

“Wait a minute Crill!”  My dad jumped in.  “God loves you and if for some reason, as you say, He was not with you on that rock, then that was only temporary.  He would not allow you to spend an eternity apart form Him.  Why do you think He would do such a thing to you; one he loves so?”  “I don’t know.  Dad, is God with you?”  “Yes, He is son.”  “How do you know?”  “His Spirit makes His presence known to me everyday in the communion of prayer.”  “And if you did not have this communion?”  “Well, I guess I would not know.”  “Dad, I have no such communion.  I mean I pray to Him and all but I have no communion.  God is not with me.”  “Do you want Him to be with you?”  Asked the Guslar.

“After that incident on the river?  I do and more than anything.  I don’t want to be alone forever.”  “Then call upon His name.”  “How do I do that?”  “Are you right with Him Crill?”  “What do you mean?”  “Do you always do what is right in His eyes?”  “No!”  “Can you do right always?”  “I don’t think so.”  “Does He want you to do right always?”  “Yes.”  “Then call on His name to make you able to do right and to forgive you when you do wrong.”  “That’s all I have to do?”  “You can think of another way?”  “No.”  “Then what have you got to lose?”  “Nothing, I guess.  I have nothing to lose.”  “What do you have to gain?”  “I would be accepted by God and not rejected on account of sin but what is His name?  How can I call if I don’t know His name?”  “God has always existed.  He exists now.  He will always exist.  God is.  He is the great ‘I Am’.  His name is “I Am!”

Before I knew it I fell on my knees right there next to my dad and the Guslar.  I bowed my head and outstretched my hands without really knowing why.  I started to cry as I said, with a load vice these words:

“God, I know I do wrong.  Please forgive me.  And I know I am alone helpless to do right.  I call on your name, ‘I Am’, to save me.  Please create in me a new heart.  Please bless me with your presence and may I not be alone forever.  Amen.”

After I was done praying I looked up as my father came in to hug me.  The Guslar was looking up to heaven and praising God.  All the other men and Billaad were just starring at me mouths open wide but I did not care.  I was crying and laughing at the same time and uncontrollably.  I can’t describe much of what happened to me in those moments but I can tell you that I was no longer alone.

As we walked on that afternoon it was becoming clear to the men that we would not make the site we had camped at on the way up the river.  We were all tired and the excitement of the journey up river had turned to drudgery as we made our way down river.  Besides, my head had begun to hurt.

Settled around the fire, bellies full and tired, the men’s talk started to center around tomorrow’s trek.  There was much debate on whether or not we could make it all the way back in one day.  Here we had one of the few disagreements I can recall between Grip and my dad.  Grip was adamant that our group in its present condition could not cover the remaining distance in one day’s time.  Kimeril was just as sure that we could.  Never heated the dialogue did become intricate.

“Look Kim, on the way up we only covered barely two thirds of what remains in a day and we were fresh and keen to move.”  “Awe yes but we had a late start and our focus was the wide eyed amazement of discovery not the narrow road toward home.”  They went on but it was about this time that the pain in my head became much more acute.  I attempted to bear up but its affects were visible to the men and uncle spoke up.

“Crill, what’s the matter boy?”  This brought the attention of the other men.  Billaad had fallen asleep some time before.  When I failed to answer Grip and my dad stopped their banter and attended to my painful distress.

“Crill.  Crill!”  My dad had come to my side and grabbed my hand.  I was a little disoriented.  I could hear him and when I made eye contact, although fuzzy, I smiled.  “Are you all right?”  “My head really hurts dad.  And I am dizzy.”  “Someone get a cold compress and let’s give them some room to breath.”  Grip instructed the men.

“Can I get you something Crill; a drink of water?”  My dad was getting frantic and looking about indecisively; worried.  I could hear him and all the men as they talked amongst each and another as to what was the best course of action to help me.  But the sound of their voices became increasingly far off or a little muffled.  Also, my vision was blurred; the periphery so much so as to make those figures unrecognizable.  I could see my dad though and he was so attentive.  He was stroking my face as they laid the cold cloth on my forehead.

“Dad.”  “Yes son, I am here.”  “I am not alone dad.”  “That’s good son.  We are all here boy.”  “Grandpa, is he hear?”  “Yes, Crill.  Now hang on son.  You are going to be all right.  This is probably a small relapse from your accident.  I am right here with you and here I will stay right through the worst of it son.  I love you.  How is the pain?”  “I love you too dad.  It hurts a lot now.  I think I would like to go to sleep.  Maybe that will make me feel better.”  Grip shuck his head and my dad responded; “No son why don’t you wait a while.  Stay up and talk with me like the other night ok?”  “Sure dad I liked that.”

The men were all scurrying around now.  They checked the wound sight on my head but that looked pretty good.  It had never swelled up much and the gash had no puss on it.  “Dad!”  I exclaimed.  “I can’t see!”  The light of the fire had gone out in my mind and it was pitch black to me now.  “I am right here son.”  My dad gripped my hand tight and bent close kissing my check.  “Oh dad I can’t see you.  Please keep talking dad.  Would you pray dad?”

“Yes son.  Dear God.  Lord I ask you to be with my son Crill now and comfort him.  Ease his suffering father.  May the pain be removed and his sight restored.  Lord be with us now to set things right and new and it is in you we trust.  Amen.”  “Thank you dad.  You are good to me.  I am not alone dad.  But I need to rest.  Will we see mother and Nike tomorrow?  I’ll talk to you again in the morning dad goodnight.”  “No son, stay with me now.”

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